Report: Caltrans Systematically Quelled Bay Bridge Safety Concerns

Instagram images and group bike rides now celebrate the Bay Bridge’s eastern span, but the bridge’s long construction process was a constant source of concern. A new report details what went wrong to (hopefully) prevent future mistakes.
January 25, 2014, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A new report titled “The San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge: Basic Reforms for the Future” produces a scathing account of the many scofflaws of the construction of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. The most concerning finding of the report, “an institutionalized, if not malicious, lack of transparency,” on the part of state transportation agency Caltrans.

Lee Romney writes that Caltrans isn’t the only guilt party according to the report’s account of the cost overruns, delays, and falsified reports that plagued the project. “The report spreads blame for delays among the U.S, Navy, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, environmental groups, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the state Legislature and ‘actions taken at the very highest levels of the state’s executive branch [that] also cost — rather than saved — time and money.’”

Romney notes, however, that “the harshest criticism is reserved for the way Caltrans treated those who raised concerns. Among them: One respected outside engineer was told he was being ‘too rigorous’ in expressing concerns about widespread cracks in Chinese-made welds, an interview revealed. He also raised questions about the anchor rods and was told 'basically to stop bringing it up.'"

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Published on Thursday, January 23, 2014 in Los Angeles Times
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